Tesla accused of deceptive marketing practices

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

going electric

Tesla is in hot water again. This time, it’s the California Department of Motor Vehicles with a bone to pick over Tesla’s marketing language surrounding its Full Self Driving (FSD) tech. The state agency alleges that the automaker used deceptive marketing when pushing the tech to potential buyers. 

Tesla

Photo courtesy of Tesla

CNBC uncovered two court filings from late July, in which the California DMV says Tesla’s “labels and descriptions represent that vehicles equipped with the ADAS features will operate as an autonomous vehicle, but vehicles equipped with those ADAS features could not at the time of those advertisements, and cannot now, operate as autonomous vehicles.”

The DMV’s goal isn’t to prevent Tesla from selling the features to future buyers – for now. It’s to force the automaker to use clearer language and make an effort to educate customers on driver aids and how they work. The agency is also looking into Autopilot and FSD to make sure that drivers don’t need a special license or permit to use them on public roads. 

Tesla doesn’t have long to respond. The DMV’s filings gave the automaker 15 days to respond, and if it doesn’t, California can temporarily suspend its license to manufacture and sell cars in the state. 

Autopilot now comes standard in new Tesla vehicles, but buyers still have to shell out $12,000 or a monthly $199 for access to Full Self Driving tech. The FSD tech is still in beta and is being tested on public roads by Tesla owners that sign up for the program.

2020 Tesla Model X

Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

It’s worth noting that the California DMV’s actions are not the only brewing issue for Tesla. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened investigations into the automaker’s driver assistance tech, following a string of deadly crashes that potentially resulted in misuse of the systems. 

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